Category Archives: Blog

There’s Safety In Community

Posted on Sep 19, 2017 | Download

Everyday is an illustrated sermon when raising sheep. Just as the kids were leaving for school this morning, a neighbor's dog came strolling up. The shepherd (my husband) knew why it was here: to chase those sheep. The sheep knew it too. The dog seemed harmless. He even rolled over on it's back when we would walk up to it. My husband tried to run it off but it kept coming back. The kids got upset because they just knew that the dog was friendly. The sheep are on high alert. They're frozen with fear. We watched closely to see if the dog would go after the sheep with us standing near. He catches their scent on the ground and within seconds begins to chase them. And the race is on! Round and round the barn they go as the shepherd starts to intervene. Down into the front pasture they sprint, startled and running for their lives. My husband strategically times his move and cuts in between the sheep and the dog. I help hold the dog off while the shepherd gets them safely to the sheepfold. All the while I am thinking back to the moment those sheep saw the dog. They stood clustered together, watchful and nervous. Had they just stood together and held their ground, the dog would not have chased them. In fact, he would've lost interest and moved along. But they ran. And ran. And ran. The shepherd said, "No, that dog won't likely attack them but he will run them in the ground. The pregnant females would lose their babies. They have to stop running." Our enemy, according to the Word, has weapons formed against us (Is. 54:17). He tries using them but we are promised that they won't prosper. The enemy may not destroy us, but he would be happy to keep us in a frenzy, running and running and running until we are so ragged that we fall. Perhaps this is a word for some of us. Stop running yourself ragged. Stand your ground. Stand safe in the community of fellow believers. Stop running and face the enemy head on. Don't let him chase you one more moment. Paul told us in Ephesians 6:13, "Put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after battle (yes you will have to fight a few) you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground!" The first piece he lists is the Belt of Truth. TRUTH. Our ultimate and greatest defense against our Adversary, the opposer of Truth. Hurl Truth in the face of the enemy and watch him run. You do not have to listen to his lies. You do not have to reason with his shame. You do not have to hide from his intimidation. You do not have to run in a panic. You have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you! You are in the Good Shepherd's sheepfold and He has prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemy (Ps. 23:5). Take heart and fight the good fight.

God is teaching you to fight.

Posted on Jul 19, 2017 | Download

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”  (Jeremiah 12:5) Why does anyone hire a personal trainer? Think about it. We give someone money to make us to do things we don't want to do. We literally pay someone to put us in pain, make us sweat, and smack our hands away from chocolate chip cookies. Why? There are a couple of reasons. We need accountability. A big part of having a personal trainer is simply having someone else there to make sure you show up and to call you out when you don’t. We need a standard. We need someone else in our lives to push us further than we are comfortable going because we know the result will be worth it. If we were working out on our own, we might stop when it hurts or when we get tired. But a trainer knows that we can usually do more than we think we can, and will push us to do so. We need a coach. Especially when we are first starting out exercising, it’s difficult to even know where to start or what to do? Should I run three miles immediately, or should I work up to it? Should I bench-press and exercise my legs on the same day or alternate days? How many repetitions should I do? Etc. We need a coach to show us what to do. God is our personal trainer. He puts you into situations that are hard, frustrating, and even at times discouraging, not because he enjoys seeing you suffer, but because he wants to see you persevere—to win! When we face trials it’s natural, and even right, to pray that God would rescue us from them. Sometimes God will answer that prayer with an emphatic and miraculous, “Yes!” and it’s wonderful when he does. Other times, God may answer with “No” or “Not yet.” These are not inferior answers, and they do not mean you lack faith. God’s answer may be “no” because you are in training. He is saying to you, like he said to Jeremiah, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” God told Paul the same thing in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9: “A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me… Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” When we face difficult, we should pray earnestly and faithful that God would rescue us from it (he is our Savior, after all). But we should not become discouraged when he chooses not to do so, because these are the times that he wants you to learn to trust him, to persevere and to grow. In every trial you face, remember, God is teaching you to fight.   Kenneth Reid is a Christian, husband, dad, blogger and song writer from Tyler, TX. He works at Somachurch as the office administrator. Follow his blog at kennetheugene.com.   Photo by Solal Ohayon on Unsplash

7 questions to ask when you lose your love for God.

Posted on Jun 28, 2017 | Download

We all find ourselves in a place from time to time where our passion for the Lord begins to diminish. 16th Century Reformer, Martin Luther, said in his 95 Theses, "The entire life of believers [is] to be one of repentance." Repentance should mark our Christian walk. If we aren't constantly repenting it may be time to reevaluate whether our relationship with Jesus is genuine. Our pastor talked a couple of weeks ago about the scripture in Matthew 24:12 that says, "Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold." In his message he suggested seven questions you should ask yourself when you begin to feel like you're losing your passion for Jesus.   1. When is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone you know is an unbeliever? All it takes is a glance at our Facebook pages to know that we can't help but talk about the things we're passionate about. If we are truly passionate about the gospel, sharing it with others will be our natural response.   2. When is the last time you invited an un-churched Christian to your church or Small-Group? James 5:20 says, "Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." Bringing the wandering Christian home should be something we eagerly seek to do.   3. How often do YOU come to church or Small-Group? The Church is most often referred to as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. It is almost inconceivable that a Christian can be a passionate follower of Christ, but care very little about His Body and Bride.   4. When is the last time you prayed for someone outside your own Christian Community? If we aren't thinking and praying for people outside the church, then our hearts are not hurting for what God's heart hurts for. Namely, the lost!   5. When is the last time you privately prayed for someone inside your own church community? We have to be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are our spiritual family and we should care about them as much as our own family.   6. When is the last time you privately prayed at all? Prayer is the proof of dependence upon God. If we are not praying, we can't say that we truly depend on God.   7. Do you faithfully give toward the Great Commission? Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also," (Matt. 6:21). How can we say our heart is for the lost if our wallet is not?   You can hear the whole sermon this blog post was based on here.

How to erase anxiety from your life

Posted on Jun 7, 2017 | Download

Through the years of ministry, I have spoken to so many who struggle with fear and anxiety. It can hit like a tidal wave at any moment but the consensus say the middle of the night can be when it strikes the hardest. Ranging anywhere from mild anxiety that keeps their minds from resting to sheer panic that wakes them up in a flash of terror. Then the mental barrage of worse-case scenarios, what-if's and all the questions.....Who? What? When? Where? Why? I've had these moments myself and watched a pattern in my mental behavior that was completely opposite of how I live and what I believe. So I asked the Lord to show me what my response should be when those moments strike. I've shared before that I am learning to stop, take a deep breath and turn the focus from me or my problem or the scenario, and begin focusing on and speaking out truth and praise: Who God is. What He has done. When He has come through in the past. Where He wants to take me. Why He has given me grace.   Psalms 63:6-8 gives us a pleasant alternative to those middle of the night panic sessions. "I lie awake thinking of you (God), Meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; Your strong right hand holds me securely." I think God knew we would be prone to worry and fret. He also knows that the enemy of our souls is especially nocturnal.... he thrives in the darkness. When we practice turning our minds and thoughts to God, we are letting the light shine in the darkness and the reward is peace. It's the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) What a beautiful benefit He has given us in knowing Him and choosing to think of Him, even when anxiety and fear try to rule our hearts. We are held securely in Him. What peace! And what a reason to praise!    

Don’t Freak Out

Posted on Apr 5, 2017 | Download

Don't freak out. Talk to Me. Don't freak out. Trust Me. Come to Me.  First. Before your spouse, your parents, your friends. Before Facebook. The peace you yearn for is only satisfied when it is from Me. Why trust Me? Because I am the, I AM. I am the Creator. The earth on which you stand, I made that. The trees, flowers, grass, I grew that. Put your hand on your chest, I commission every single beat. Stop looking for answers and comfort from people who did not create each fiber of this universe.  Come to Me first. I am greater. I am bigger. I am more than you will ever know or could imagine, and I Am with you. Running away and hiding does not separate us. You cannot hide in light or darkness from Me. Please stop. Let Me in. Let Me love you how your heart has been longing. I made your heart, I know what it needs. I am what it needs. That "freak out" feeling, your unsatisfied spirit...I, and only I, can sooth it. I AM, trustworthy, bigger, mighty, a loving Father, a just God, a Holy Spirit, and have proven My love. I have a plan. The blueprints, I drew them. The results are already in…and I am good. So, Don’t Freak Out. Talk to Me. Your car stopped working. Will you trust Me? Your bank is empty. Will you trust Me? Your body is sick. Will you trust Me? Your home is broken. Will you trust Me? You lost your job. Will you trust Me? You lost a beloved one. Will you trust Me? Your heart is lonely. Will you trust Me? Your sins are suffocating. Will you trust Me? With your greatest fear. Will you trust Me? With your deepest desire. Will you trust Me? Will you give it all to Me? Will you loosen your grip and give it back? Deep breath. Come to Me. Come, let Me pour out My peace upon you. Let Me lighten your load. Let Me teach you My ways. Let Me share what is on My heart. I love you. I am calling you out of fear. I am calling you INTO trust. Don't freak out. (just a little of the) Proof: Exodus 3:14, Deuteronomy 6:13-19, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:4, Deuteronomy 31:8, Proverbs 3:1-6, Matthew 6:25-33, Psalm 139:7-12, John 14:23-27, Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 139: 13-15, Romans 5:1-11, Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16-17

Simplify to Amplify

Posted on Mar 15, 2017 | Download

Simplify To Amplify One of our elders recently preached a sermon entitled, “Revived.” Of the many impactful words he shared, one of the phrases that really stuck with me was, “When God calls us out on something, He calls us unto something.” I recently stumbled upon a podcast that outlined reflective practices meant to be target strengths, weaknesses and areas of opportunity in our individual lives. The podcast recommended two practices 1) 80/20 analysis and 2) thinking big. The 80/20 analysis comes from the Pareto Principle, where generally speaking, 20% of causes typically generate 80% of the results. Think – “20% of the people are doing 80% of the work.” In the instance of this podcast, the host encouraged listeners to evaluate and emphasize the 20% of their life from which they derived the majority (80%) of their happiness. Then, prioritize towards that specific 20%, rather than get lost in the remaining 80% that doesn’t bring happiness. The other practice, thinking big, forces us outside of our comfort zone, rather than simply accept the way things are currently. He used the figure 10X. Rather than being reactionary, he encouraged proactive behaviors by setting big goals, 10X goals, and working backwards from this big end result to identify the steps necessary to reach that big goal. Not only are these great self-improvement practices, these concepts relate to our walk with Christ and really materialize the concept of being called out. Consider 2 Peter 1:5-10: For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. I encourage you to perform an 80/20 analysis in your personal and spiritual life. What are the few truly rewarding pursuits you are involved in? Why not focus and prioritize towards these impactful pursuits rather than getting bogged down with the mundane remainder of ill-rewarding pursuits. What kind of change would you see in your life if the majority of your time spent generated Kingdom impactful results that glorify God and share His grace? Ask yourself - Where is your time going? Where is your worth placed? Are you over-extended or running ragged? Do you find very little time for things that truly matter? These are tough questions to ask yourself, but don’t be shy. Be brutally honest. If time is our most valuable asset, are we being good stewards of focusing our time on Kingdom pursuits – being used by Him and bringing glory to God? One of my favorite sayings is “Without margin, there is no ministry.” This can be true in many areas – finances, attitudes and especially our time. If I pack my schedule so full with what I think I HAVE to do, am I missing out on joining God at work RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME? In the context of this 80/20 analysis, am I focusing on the impactful, or going through the motions with the less effective? The second concept – thinking big, setting the goal and working backwards can be directly applied to our spiritual lives as well. This week, my pastor shared about praying to the Lord to increase our faith. Think of Peter on the water, sinking, rather than grabbing hold of the steadfast hand of Christ. When I hear “think big” my mind goes directly to “God sized ideas”. What are the things we are embarrassed to share because they seem so outlandish to our current situations? The root of thinking big, and subsequently praying big, is faith. We must have faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). I can be guilty of limiting beliefs. We all do it. This is human nature. However, God is not and will not be limited. As believers, we have a unique opportunity to join with God in His work, for His glory; but to be a part of His BIG picture, which we cannot see in its entirety, we MUST have faith. The popular 1950s book, The Magic of Thinking Big states that “Action cures fear.” This is completely true in our spiritual walk. Faith is the action that cures the fear that cripples us. So, this blog post is titled, “Simplify to Amplify.” At the most basic level, we must prioritize and have faith. As believers, we are called out by God, but when we are called out for something we are also called unto something. What is God calling you to? Do you have the margin, or time in your life that enables us to approach the throne in freedom, with faith, to join with God where He is leading? How can you simplify, in an effort to amplify? Are there areas of your life that are consumed with things that are detracting from our ability to live out the will of God and to be used powerfully by Him? Are you afraid to trust God to lead you into a new season of change? Are you afraid to specifically pray to the Lord for faith to believe in your “God sized ideas?” Perhaps you are entering a season of required simplicity or rest to “get back to the basics?” Trust God. Simplicity is necessary to more clearly hear from the Lord and be filled with His Spirit and grace as you embark into a new season or a renewed calling. Place your focus and faith in Him.

Give Life

Posted on Sep 16, 2016 | Download

I will never forget the past two and a half weeks. I am overwhelmed. I am inspired. I am encouraged. I am forever changed. The call of our church this past year has been to go “further” and “deeper” in Christ as we seek to live a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1). My prayer is to encourage you through sharing how the Lord is teaching me, for His glory, even in the midst trial and pain. My two-year old nephew tragically passed away a little over a week ago. Before he passed, I spent many late nights and early mornings in the hospital by his bedside. These are moments I will never forget – moments of blessed assurance that the Lord was right there with us, providing peace in the midst of chaos; a good shepherd in the midst of a shadowy valley. In those moments I was surrounded by the peace and comfort of our Savior. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 I love the promises found throughout God’s word. It is so easy to read over these promises as they register in your mind. Too often, it is not until we are broken down and have worn through every ounce of self-reliance that these same verses resonate in our hearts. C.S. Lewis wrote of how God uses pain. “It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” These moments with Remy were eternally rousing for me, moments of refinement and encouragement. I will forever cherish the precious moments I spent with Remy by his bedside. We sang, prayed and read scripture. One night, I read him a poem I remembered from long ago - “Only One Life, Twill Soon Be Past" by C.T. Studd. One particular stanza provided both an encouragement and challenge: Give me Father, a purpose deep,             In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;             Faithful and true what e’er the strife,             Pleasing Thee in my daily life;             Only one life, ’twill soon be past,             Only what’s done for Christ will last. “A purpose deep.” “Faithful and true.” “Pleasing Thee in my daily life.” These words resonated with me. It speaks of a singular purpose, a purpose of glorifying God, remaining faithful and true. So much life has come from Remy’s passing – physical life, spiritual life, and emotional life. I like to say, “God used Remy to give life.” The amount of glory given to God in these last few weeks speaks to an all-knowing God and His perfect plan. I say “God used Remy to give life” because what people less familiar with the story may not know is that through Remy’s death, he was able to give life through organ donation. His blood type was extremely rare, and due to his gift, two other people that had very little hope were given life. We call Remy a hero. God used him to give life! At his memorial, 5 people committed their lives to Christ. More life! His parents - my sister and brother-in-law, have held steadfast in their faith, trusting God during the darkest time in their life. Their confidence, strength and resolve to glorify God through it all is unbelievably inspiring. Since his passing, countless testimonies have been shared of how this story has impacted the lives of others. To God be the glory! These are people Remy and his parents have never met. What life! What an impact! Through the grace of God, this precious two-year old boy has been used by God, impacting more people than most can reach in a lifetime. One of the greatest gifts I have from my nephew is a precious inspiration to be used by God, as Remy was, to “give life” and return glory to Him. In Remy’s story, both his life and his ability to give life to others returned glory to God. We have been given the gift of life through Christ, so we may be used to bring Him glory. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 So, what do I mean by “give life?” To “give life” in this metaphor is to be used by God to return glory to Him. This is done through our relationship with Him and our relationships with others. The Chaplain leading Remy’s memorial prayed that we would all “remember what life is all about – Our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.” In Matthew 22, Jesus shares the two greatest commandments – “Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor.” God can use everyone in different ways to “give life” and glorify Him. While not everyone can give a physical gift of life like Remy, we can be used by God to “give life” in our families, our marriages, our careers. All of this can bring God glory. We can “give life” through love; through mending broken relationships, through redefining priorities, through intentional discipleship, through pursuing missional living, through outreach, and most of all, through praying for one another and loving one another. In all things - our thoughts, our actions and our lives as a whole, we are to love the Lord and love each other. The time the Lord gives us on this earth is not certain. Intentionally living out these two commandments is how we can be used to return glory to Him. Remember the poem above – “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Be encouraged! No thought, action or deed is too small to be used for God’s glory. Do not discount your age, position, status or capabilities. God can use any person, at any age, for His glory. Just look at Remy! “Now to Him who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 However God uses each of us to “give life”, I am confident it will continue to lead each of us on the path of “further, deeper” as we seek to live a life worthy of the calling. “Give life”, grow in Christ and experience the joy of going further and deeper with Him.

3 Reasons to Stop Going to Church

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 | Download

Church can feel like a confusing and frustrating place in our culture. It seems like all the time we hear of a minister falling into sin or major doctrinal divides among denominations. Hypocritical, thievish, immoral, judgmental, these are some of the horrific words that are often used to describe the Church. And for many, even the “good” churches do not seem all that necessary. After all, I can download sermons and praise songs on my phone and have an entire worship service in my living room, right? It certainly beats sitting in a large room full of people I don’t like while pretending not to feel awkward until it’s over. Who needs church? This isn’t a new problem. 1 Samuel 1-2 records one of the worst church experiences most of us have ever faced. Elkanah and Hanna are a very sweet couple, and they are barren. Hanna desperately wanted children. So when she and her husband came to the temple (church) to offer the annual sacrifice, she prayed earnestly that God would give her a child. And this is where their bad church experience begins. Unhelpful Pastor Hanna prays sorrowfully and silently for a child. “Hanna was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). Eli, the priest (pastor) saw her praying and somehow took her silent prayer for drunkenness: “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you” (vs. 14). Put yourself in this story. There you are, a God fearing woman (or the husband of a God fearing woman), bearing your soul before God, trying to trust Him, but also broken and frustrated. And the pastor judgmentally accuses you of being drunk. How would you react? Hanna’s response was humility. “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit… I have been pouring out my heart before the Lord.” Finally, Eli blesses her, (doesn’t apologize, mind you), and prays that she would have a child. Ungodly Church Elders Hanna made a vow that if God would give her a child, she would give him back to the Lord. God showed Himself faithful and blessed her with a son whose name was Samuel. She kept Samuel until he was weaned and then brought him to the temple to be raised as a minister to the Lord. Samuel would live at the temple with the priests for the rest of his life. That’s quite a vow for a mom to make. Chapter 2 tell us about some of the other priests Samuel would be influenced by—the sons of Eli. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.” (Can you imagine if God called you worthless)? It goes on to explain why these men were worthless. First, “the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt” (verse 37). They had no fear of the Lord and did not care about the people, so when worshippers would come to offer a sacrifice, they bullied the people and disrupted worship just to eat some of the sacrificial meat. Second, they were sleeping with the female temple servants. If you were Samuel’s parents, would you leave your kid with these guys? Unmet Expectations So Hanna and Elkanah kept their vow and gave their child to the Lord. They have remained gracious and unoffended with their Pastor’s accusation of drunkenness, they have chosen to trust the Lord and leave their child in the company of these wicked church elders, and now they have gone back home where they are practically left with no children, yet again. What unmet expectations might they have experienced? Have you ever grown bitter with God thinking, “After all I’ve given to Him, why isn’t He being faithful to me?” But this was not their heart. God had, as of yet, given them no more children. Their circumstance had not changed. But they still came faithfully every year to give the annual sacrifice, and 1 Sam. 2:19 says, “His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” It was after they came faithfully to worship that they were finally blessed with more children.   WHY? So is church really worth it? Why would this couple pour so much of themselves into being committed to the Church after such a terrible experience? There are at least three reasons we should never give up on the Church. Because God is Faithful When Hanna brought Samuel to the temple and showed him to Eli she said, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord.” Nothing in this life is truer than that when we obey God He abundantly blesses us. We remain faithful to Him, and therefore to His people, because He is faithful to us. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things,” (Romans 8:32)? Because Jesus Loves the Church The Church is the Bride of Christ. When we give up on the Church we are giving up on Christ’s wife. He paid a high price for her, and I promise He knows her flaws much better than you do. You have no right to give up on the Church until He does, and He never will. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Because YOU are the Church We have all seen hypocrisy, we have all been hurt by someone in the Church, and probably more often than that, we have all felt the fakeness of “playing church.” Honestly, sometimes it does feel easier to just stay home. But may I encourage you not to give up on the Church? Church isn’t just a place to be blessed and filled up, it is also a place to be a blessing and to pour yourself out. When you walk into a congregation and become frustrated that no one is kind enough to meet you and invite you into their circle of friendship, you be the Church and reach out to someone you do not know. When you see hypocrisy, you be the Church and live an example of godliness. When you see fake Christianity, you be the Church and show others what it means to be genuine. Where you see the Church not acting like the Church, you be the Church.

Trial and Error Evangelism

Posted on Jul 16, 2016 | Download

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — During a recent evangelistic outing, I was conversing with an adherent of New Age philosophy. He was a good old-fashioned hippie who sought external, internal and eternal peace through oneness with the material world. He believed that all of nature had the same spiritual value as do human beings. Normally, fellows with such a mindset are very calm and diplomatic. This guy, however, was downright hostile. Our conversation ended with him setting a Gospel tract on fire. I was tempted to leave the scene, but I decided to talk with one of this militant hippie’s cohorts instead. She concurred with his views, but was actually willing to have a respectful conversation about our differences. My discussion with her concluded with a friendly hug, and she accepted an invitation to my church. On another occasion when a friend of mine and I were looking to talk to people about Jesus, we met a Hindu guru and his Buddhist friend. In the months since my first encounter with those two, it has become clear that the Hindu gentleman is not only a non-believer, but he is totally hostile to the Gospel. He said that he unequivocally refuses to keep an open mind about Jesus, he won’t accept Gospel literature, receive prayer or be my guest at church. His Buddhist friend, on the other hand, has taken evangelistic tracts (and given me a Buddhist one) and is open to coming to Christian events if his work schedule permits. I know where both men work. From time to time, I visit my new Buddhist friend and we compare spiritual perspectives. I do not go to the Hindu guru anymore because it’s obvious he’s not interested in a discussion. He only wants an argument — and to ridicule Jesus. Sometimes, when we set out to proclaim Jesus to people, God will guide us directly to those who want to hear our message. Often, though, we have to discover who is interested and who isn’t through trial and error. This was the way Christ’s early disciples typically spread the message of salvation. When the Apostle Paul tried to share the Gospel in Corinth (part of modern-day Greece) he initially encountered those who “opposed and reviled him.”1 He turned away from that group and shared the message of Jesus with others. As a result, “many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.”2 When Paul and his missionary companion, Barnabas, preached that Jesus is the messiah in Antioch (part of modern-day Turkey) many “began to contradict what was spoken.”3 When they redirected their efforts, many came to faith in Jesus.4 Likewise in Ephesus (also in Turkey) Paul was sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. Yet when some “became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of” Christianity he moved on.5 When Jesus sent out his disciples to evangelize, he admonished them to turn away from people who were unwilling to “listen to” them.6 Yet, it should be noted, he was perfectly willing to send them to people who likely would reject the message. Jesus loved people so much that he wanted all to hear the Gospel. He didn’t believe it was ever a waste of time to discuss the truth with someone. However, he was strategic enough to move on when people clearly demonstrated disinterest in the Good News. He wanted to focus on those who would listen. Christians today should take exactly the same approach. 1. Acts 18:6 2. Acts 18:8 3. Acts 13:45 4. Acts 13:48 5. Acts 19:9 6. Matthew 10:14 Raymond Billy is one of Soma's missionaries who lives and ministers in Hawaii. For more information and to contribute to his mission work, visit http://www.modernday.org/field-workers/billy/.

Evangelism through the Heart

Posted on Jul 8, 2016 | Download

Compassion for the lost – that is what fuels the fire of evangelism in my heart. There are so many people who are lost in the world. We see people all around us who don't know Christ and appear to have their lives all together; yet they are filled with emptiness and have barren souls. We often categorize "the lost" as being the homeless, drug addicts, or people living in third world countries . . . and after all isn't it the missionaries’ job to reach the lost? Not according to the Bible. Anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Savior is called to proclaim the good news of Christ. Why then do we find it so difficult to share who Jesus is and what He has done in our lives with unbelievers? So many of us have adopted the misconception that evangelism means going door to door or presenting an unbelieving friend or family member with a prepared speech. We work up the courage, blurt the whole thing out, and hope they don't ask any questions, and then think "whew, I've done my duty for the year." No wonder so many non-Christians get scared when they see us coming! The model for evangelism that Jesus showed to us was sharing through relationship. God will sometimes bring us spur of the moment opportunities to share our faith. However, more often than not those opportunities come through friends, coworkers, neighbors, or family who are lost. I think non-believers want to see that we are human too, not some super -disciple whose feet never touch the ground. We are sinners who make mistakes, but we have a Savior who has set us free from the bondage of sin and bridged the gap between God and us. When we share how Jesus has worked in our own lives and the relationship we have with Him, that can spark a lot more interest than a speech blurted out at record speed. In Luke 8:16 Jesus says, "Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lamp stand, in order that those who come in may see the light.” People should be able to see Jesus in our lives, the way we behave, what we say and do. God brings opportunities to share His Saving Grace as our lives bear witness to Christ in us. "Why are you so happy all the time" or "How can you not be worried about this" are questions that open a door to share Christ with someone. John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him shall bear much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Abiding in Christ is where evangelism begins. When we bear fruit our lives are a testimony to Christ’s power to change us. Although, our witnessing may only plant a seed that we don't see grow into maturity; we can trust that God will use that seed to "woo" that person to Him. I love how Rebecca Manley Pippert, in her book, “Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World,” sums this up: "If we are to be followers of Jesus, His values must permeate our values. We need to be concerned more with how our lives reflect His love, His holiness, His obedience, than with the latest witnessing techniques. When we live as Jesus did, in His power and with His presence, seekers will be drawn to us. Evangelism will not be a dreaded task to be ticked off every Wednesday. Rather, sharing Jesus will become a true delight and evangelism will become a lifestyle".


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